April Writing Update


Welcome to my first blog on Writing. I hope to amuse, inspire, motivate and provide you with tips on writing. I am by no means an expert, but I believe we can all learn from each other no matter what stage of our writing journey we are on.

I promised I would begin this weekend, but funny enough I am feeling very unmotivated today. A busy working week followed by a massive but a very enjoyable and social Saturday has now left me just wanting to relax in the sun. It’s a beautiful sunny autumn day here in Sydney​ but still feels like summer. I want to go to the beach and I have been snacking all morning. A sure sign that I have been distracting myself from what I need to do. Write this first blog.
Why does that happen? I would love your comment if you find that happens to you sometimes too.

So what to do. I find when procrastination sets in and you keep pushing out what you need to do, ​the ​ best remedy is to honour your feelings for a little while then make yourself get on with the job. That way you feel like you have compromised.

That’s exactly what I did. I sat on my veranda this morning and had a lovely breakfast in the sun. Not quite the beach but certainly satisfied most of my need for self-indulgence​.

But after lunch​n I gave myself no excuse; grabbed my laptop and started writing. Once I start I know it will come. It never fails. 

So a bit about my writing journey so far.

I have always been gifted with a wild imagination and a desire to visit far-away interesting places. I think the long dark winters in Denmark as a child and teenager encouraged this imagination. I never liked the cold winter and in my imagination,​ I could go anywhere.

I collected a number of pen-pals from all over the world and we wrote each other long essays about our lives in our strange lands. A young Malaysian girl stands out as the most memorable pen-pal. Her and my life were so different. I loved reading her letters. I dreamt of living somewhere abroad where the sun would shine most of the year. And today here I am in sunny Australia. Funny how the power of your mind seems​​m capable of creating your reality without actually consciously trying.

I loved writing essays for school and I absolutely loved telling my younger sister stories. My imagination sometimes got me into trouble by making my stories too scary for my much younger sister. Mum was not always impressed, but my sister loved it. So I continued.

As an adult I wrote journals, detailing my initial years in Australia. They were not regular, but more often prompted by my father-in-law, who for some reason felt I had a book in me about my life. Maybe one day.

As a parent your life gets hectic, and I found little time to write in the early years. But when they started school, and I had divorced and then a single mum with my girls, I again found the need to create; to write. I guess I wanted to find myself again after nearly 18 years of marriage, and writing helped with that. I started writing a children’s book about Wazza the Wombat. My girls loved it. But I never finished it as we moved from the country to the Sydney city and life got super busy. Writing again got shelved for a couple of years.

Then with all the dramas of raising teenagers and being a single woman,​ I found myself needing to express my feelings, and I started writing poetry. 

I continued to dream of writing a novel, and started a couple of times, but the task never got finished. I kept dreaming and talking about my dream. But talking doesn’t get you far. So last year I set myself a goal. 2017 was going to be the year I would immerse myself in all things writing and take my novel writing serious.

I started reading more books and developed my idea for the novel I was going to write. I am lucky both my girls are creative, and I always have them as realistic soundboards. 

I joined a local writers group and attended writing Meet-ups. I joined Facebook groups on writing and various podcasts. I fully embraced being a writer and slowly over the year I started to see myself as a writer.

I started this WordPress blog. Setting it up was quite a challenge, but I managed to put something reasonable together and have now gained a bit of a following. The feedback and comments from this community is invaluable. I realise you don’t have to have something published to be a writer. You just have to write. The more you write the more experience you get and the more confident you get in your writing.

By halfway thought the year I had participated and submitted two short story contests and was enjoying it immensely. My novel was going along nicely, but not at a pace that would get me finished by end of the year. My goal. 

NaNoWriMo is what got me over the line. I joined in late September and couldn’t wait to participate. It was the best decision I had made all year. The writing community and the numerous supportive group activities were amazing, and I wrote almost every day for the whole of November. It got my novel finished. From 15,000 words in October to 65,000 by the end of November. I was thrilled and nothing could wipe the smile off my face.  A life long dream had finally come to life, and I met some truly inspiring people on the way that I am still in touch with. You can see more here if you are not familiar with the ​organisation.  

I am now going through my novel edit process and trying to maintain my blog. Not always easy with full time work, but I am enjoying it and want to keep honing my writing skills.
I use Scrivener for writing. It does take a bit of time getting used to it, but I love having all my writing as well as my research in the one place. For my novel ,​I also find it helpful to add photos of your characters into Scrivener. I find it useful to look at the photos before writing the characters scene. Too easy to have someone look into his brown eyes , when in an earlier chapter he had blue eyes. 

For editing,​ I started using ProWritingAid earlier this year. It certainly takes the sting out of editing and picks up so much more than I ever would. Not only grammar but style and even if you use certain words too much. A great tool. So much more to this software and I will give more details​ in later blogs.

My plan is to finish my edit by end of this month. My daughter, who works as a writer/concept designer, is reading it at the moment. Once I have her feedback and my final edit Ill submit to publishers. A scary but exciting thought. 

But to get there I have to keep editing. So must finish this blog and get back to my novel edit.

I hope you have enjoyed a little insight into me and my writing. 
Next blog is planned for​ a fortnight on my photography. 

Stay tuned and stay happy.

My Last Love

My second short story published first on Short Fiction Break in September 2017


He was not my first love. But he ended up my biggest and my last love.

It was a short love affair, but the fall was intense. We both knew it would not be an easy road yet it was a road we both desired and had to travel. Almost like there was no other option.

I saw it in his eyes across the breakfast table in the hotel cafe busy with people enjoying a last weekend away before fall. We seemed to be the only people by ourselves.  I was wondering if he had a partner. But he remained on his own. Our eyes locked and we both smiled. I think that was the moment I fell. Something in his face, the way his smile seemed to not only make his lips move. His whole face and body smiled. I felt instantly warm, secure and immensely content. My whole body felt alive. Longing raised to the surface so overpowering I could only go with what my soul urged me to do. Both feeling the pressure of time and a need to let go once more and just dive in for the fall.  Dive into falling in love.

We had both given up on finding love again. Settled for life as it was. Content with friendships and family catch-ups. Life was good. But the longing was always there. The longing to connect and to love again. The longing to have another human being to share life’s little moments with. To rid you of the loneliness that would creep in at night like a silent thief robbing you of your contentment and leaving you with sadness wondering if that was all there was left.  But you kept going each day suppressing the loneliness and focussing on all the positives in your life.

We were both at that point in our lives. I saw the reflection of my life in his eyes when we smiled across the tables. The instant attraction was deep. I normally would never do what I did next, but it felt so natural. I got up and walked over to his table.

“Can I join you?” I uttered cheerfully. His grin said more than yes. That was the start and the end for both of us. No return.

We spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the sights together. We laughed and smiled a lot. And we talked. We talked for hours. It was like we both knew we had limited time together. We wanted every minute to count and to be the best we could.

We spoke about our lives and realised how close we had been to crossing paths on a number of occasions. Our travels throughout Vietnam in our twenties, staying at the same hostels only days apart. Our children attending the same universities and graduating the same year. We would have been in the crowds cheering for them. Both with partners then. Both unhappy staying in miserable marriages for the sake of our children. Both finally divorcing and starting our new lives in our late 50’s. Settling into single life only a few suburbs apart. Eventually, both settling for life as it was. Single and content, but always longing.

The weekend ended too soon, but we exchanged numbers. His hug enveloped my whole body and reached beneath my core into my soul. It penetrated the loneliness and brought feelings to the surface that overwhelmed and surprised me. I felt like crying. A need to shed the loneliness I had suppressed for an eternity. Even with partners, I had always felt lonely. With him, I felt complete. I felt joyful. I felt love.

“Let’s catch up again soon” he whispered in my ear. I nodded and saw my own reflection in his moist eyes when we said our goodbyes.

We spoke every day after that and started our love affair. We kept it a secret to avoid trouble and the inevitable backlash. Our families would not approve easily, but we were committed to making this work and would tackle any issues together.

Our time was filled with romantic dinners, drives to new places and movies. Always talking, always laughing, always exploring new activities together. We loved with such intensity it sometimes didn’t seem real. Like being the main characters in a romance novel. Yet it was extremely real. Our feelings raw and real. Intense and beautiful.

We loved with no limitations, we read each other like open books. We didn’t always agree, but we never quarreled. We accepted each other with no questions as to who was right or wrong. Our families and friends eventually accepted us being together. Except for my daughter. “It’s just wrong” she yelled and slammed the phone down when we last spoke. “She will come around in her own time” he reassured me in his kind loving way.

We had six months of pure bliss. Pure unadulterated bliss feeling like nothing could stop this love or change our lives. But something did.

I saw it in his eyes as soon as he walked in the door. I had prepared an easy meal for a movie night at my place. Outside was windy and rain had started to set in. A perfect night for snuggling on the couch. We hugged, but I felt his tenseness. Then his body shook. He held me tight, his tears quietly rolling down my neck. His body told me he was holding back the sobs. I held him till he relaxed. Then he looked into my eyes.  I saw the reflection of the end, I felt his intense pain. I took his hand and led him to my bed and we just laid there in each other’s arms. I knew he would tell me when he was ready.

I could feel he was relaxing as I caressed his face. I looked at him, my eyes full of questions, my heart full of fear, but I was ready to hear what he had to say. I needed to hear it. His voice was filled with sorrow and despair when he uttered the six words that changed everything “I have cancer. I am dying”

My world stopped then. I struggled to take in the words at first. I don’t think I wanted to take them in. I cried. Then I kissed him intensely. We tried to make love, but we both just cried. We gave up and just hugged. Dinner stayed in the oven and burned to a crisp. We stayed in bed all night, just hugging, kissing and talking.

A routine checkup had revealed the headaches were not mere headaches. A large brain tumour had been growing inside his skull while we had enjoyed our love affair. Silently sneaking into our lives with malicious intent to rob us of our last chance of happiness and love. At our age, the fall season of life, it does not come easily or often.

The days following was a rollercoaster. He pushed me away at first saying he didn’t want me on this journey. He wanted to spare me the sadness, he wanted me to leave and find a new love. I shouted at him for the first time in our time together. I screamed and used words I didn’t know I knew. The result of my sickening fear, sadness, and despair came out in my yelling. Through it all, we both ended up accepting our needs to be with each other no matter what. Till the end. I could see that he wanted me there deep down. My eyes and emotions showed him I wanted to be there too.

We accepted our limited time. Our lovemaking returned. It was as deep as before but tinged with a sadness that we couldn’t escape. As the visits to the hospital increased and he grew weaker we mostly just held each other quietly throughout the long nights. Or we cried till we both slept. In each other’s arms, savoring every moment we had left. I would wake often. More than him. I would watch his face and listen to his breathing. Capturing the image for my memory bank to keep forever.

I laid in his arms, in the hospital bed, on his last night. Just listening to his breathing and taking in his beautiful face. His family had left for the night, vowing to return in the morning. I wished my daughter would accept us like his family had.

He woke up briefly at 4 am. His eyes were clear and looked deeply into mine when he whispered “I love you, Sam. Thank you for loving me”

He never woke again. He took his last breath shortly after in my arms. I stayed in his arms for a while longer then I called my daughter. Still with my head on his chest, I looked up as she walked in. She came over, hugged me and whispered. “Dad, I am so so sorry”

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Filed Under: Fall Writing Contest 2017


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Storming The Castle »



2 Kavitha says
September 6, 2017 at 11:20 pm



◦ Sal says
September 11, 2017 at 5:36 am

Thank you Kavitha


3 #comment-##

4 .children

5 #comment-##


7 Karen says
September 9, 2017 at 1:57 am

Poignant and beautiful.


◦ Sal says
September 11, 2017 at 5:37 am

Thank you Karen!


8 #comment-##

9 .children

10 #comment-##


12 Sally says
September 10, 2017 at 5:37 am

I can totally recognize this story – so beautiful and touching.


◦ Sal says
September 11, 2017 at 5:37 am

Thank you Sally!


13 #comment-##

14 .children

15 #comment-##


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Focus Retriever


Synopsis for Secrets in the Lake

A young freelance writer looking for love unwittingly opens a Pandora box of secrets beneath the depths of the Lake.


Mandy Reid, a successful young writer in LA, receives a call from an old flame, Sam Smith, regarding the death of a shared friend, Karl Sonenheim. The impending funeral brings Mandy back to Lake Haven, and to her mother’s old home, for the first time in many years. Friends reconnect, social dramas arise and as Mandy peels away the layers of her past in search of new love, dark secrets begin to reveal themselves, one by one, from the depths of the Lake.

When Mandy arrives in Lake Haven she encounters a series of intriguing men, including her old flame Sam, and she begins to yearn for love again. Is she really ready for love? Can she overcome the trust issues that plagued her since childhood?

You see, Mandy was born in Australia and lived her first 6 years with her parents and older stepbrother David who visited over the school holidays. These happy years all came to an end when her father suddenly died in a horrific car accident, and Mandy moved back to the US with her mother and lost contact with her stepbrother back in Australia. These events, paired with a string of bad relationships, now see Mandy struggle with and attempt to overcome her well-worn trust issues — so that maybe, someday, she might let someone in. But first, she must work out who she can really trust and who does not have her best interest at heart. Is Sam really as charming as he appears? The winery owner Ian Larson, what is with his obsession? Is Karl’s brother Marc Sonenheim the real deal?

Early on in her return to Lake Haven, Mandy connects with Karl’s widow, Emma Sonenheim. They once were very close as young teenagers but lost touch when Mandy moved away. Mandy is confronted with rumors about Emma and Sam, but these are heavily denied by Marc as just malicious town gossip. These rumors seem to have caused a rift between Marc and his old school friend Ian Larson, too.

As the circumstances of Karl’s death unfold, Mandy begins to question everything —  including her friendship with Emma. Why did Emma so desperately need a place to hide away after the funeral? Is there really something between Sam and her? Who is the anonymous caller and what is Karl’s secret?  Mandy discovers more than she could ever imagine about the lives and the people of Lake Haven, taking place oh-so-quietly behind closed doors.

Joyce Reid is Mandy’s mother and they have always had a strong bond. After all, it was just the two of them for most of Mandy’s upbringing. Joyce is a semi-retired yoga teacher and lives part-time in San Francisco and part-time in Lake Haven. She never remarried since Mandy’s father died but, like Mandy, she is slowly opening up to new love herself. They both end up back at the old house in Lake Haven for the funeral. Joyce understands Mandy’s dilemma and finally takes steps to help her daughter confront her issue after all these years and mend her broken heart. These reconnections have far-reaching consequences, leading to a new journey that neither Joyce nor Mandy ever expected.